Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima expressed her gratitude and appreciation to United States Senators Richard Durbin and Bob Menendez for persistently demanding definitive Philippine government action on human rights abuses under the Duterte administration, including her continued unjust detention.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said that despite her ordeal, she considers herself fortunate to receive steadfast support from fellow human rights advocates who are at the forefront to make sure that she achieves justice.
“I sincerely thank Senators Durbin and Menendez for their consistent and tireless efforts to put an end to the unabated human rights abuses in the country and advocate for my immediate release from unjust detention,” she said.
“Through the years, they never turned a blind eye on Duterte‘s tyrannical rule that targets critics and the marginalized sectors of the society. I am indeed fortunate for their unwavering support and solidarity,” she added.
In a virtual meeting the two US Senators attended with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez last Sept. 28, Durbin’s office said they raised several human rights concerns under Mr. Duterte’s administration.
Aside from De Lima’s continued detention, Durbin’s office said they also discussed thousands of extrajudicial killings in the country and the harassment of journalists, including Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa.
“Illinois is home to a vibrant, hardworking Filipino community. In my conversations with Illinois’ Filipino leaders, they remain disturbed by President Duterte’s actions. That includes the unjust jailing of Philippines human rights champion Senator Leila de Lima, crackdowns on the free press, and extrajudicial murders,” Durbin said.
De Lima further thanked Durbin for reassuring Locsin and Romualdez that the United States “recognizes the importance of cooperation with the Philippines to bolster security in the region, but it will not be at the exclusion of the country’s human rights record.”
“This is proof of international clamor to hold accountable those responsible for the worsening human rights abuses in the country,” she added.
Last August, Durbin, along with 10 other US Senators, urged the Biden government to condemn the Duterte administration on its blatant human rights abuses and violations, including her continued unjust detention.
In the same month, Menendez, along with eight other US Senators, filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 342 condemning the detention of women rights defenders and journalists around the world, including De Lima, and calling for their immediate release. (30)
Read US Senator Dick Durbin’s Press Release “Durbin Meets with Philippines Foreign Minister And Ambassador”, here: https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-meets-with-philippines-foreign-minister-and-ambassador-